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Netergy Networks plans to offer a vertically integrated line of products — chips and embedded software, terminal adapter and iPBX hosting solutions — that delivers VoIP to the edge of the network.

RK73H2HTTE2370F_Datasheet PDF

Netergy Networks plans to offer a vertically integrated line of products — chips and embedded software, terminal adapter and iPBX hosting solutions — that delivers VoIP to the edge of the network.

Data from industry associations confirms this. In 1999, global semiconductor sales climbed 14.7%, to $144.2 billion from $125.6 billion in 1998, according to the SIA, which is projecting 20% growth in 2000, to $174.2 billion.

That estimate may be conservative, analysts contend. In February, Merrill Lynch said it expects fiscal 2000 global semiconductor sales to rise 24.7%, to $185 billion from a previous estimated increase of a 21.5%. The company projects that sales will surge 17% in 2001, to $217 billion.

RK73H2HTTE2370F_Datasheet PDF

Demand from both the wireless- and wireline-communications industries continues to exceed our expectations,” Merrill Lynch said. The upside to our numbers has come from analog ICs, digital signal processors, field-programmable gate arrays, and special-purpose microprocessors.”

Although the industry prides itself on innovation, it's failed woefully over the years to firmly match demand and supply, leading to sometimes severe boom and bust cycles.

Many observers don't even question the possibility that the current boom will fizzle out. For them, timing is the unknown.

RK73H2HTTE2370F_Datasheet PDF

Few analysts will venture a guess beyond 2001, knowing the vagaries of the global economy, consumer-spending patterns, and other variables.

Will this upturn prove as sustainable as the 1992 to 1995 bonanza, or are we headed for a quick return to overcapacity and pricing weakness, similar to the 1997 to 1998 downturn?” Merrill Lynch asked in a recent report. All in all, we're very comfortable with the idea that the current industry recovery will continue through 2000 at a minimum,” Merrill Lynch's analysts said in response to their own question.

RK73H2HTTE2370F_Datasheet PDF

So how about 2002 and 2003? Capital outlays today will impact the industry for years to come, and a better understanding of the relationship between capex and projected demand will determine the output of next-generation fabrication facilities. Right now, many companies are trying to put in place just enough capacity to fill current demand, said some industry executives.

For instance, a large portion of the $4.7 billion that TSMC has earmarked for capital projects in 2000 will go toward satisfying immediate needs,” according to a spokesman. This includes TSMC's Fab 6, an 8-in.-wafer plant that's scheduled to ramp later this year. Two others, Fabs 7 and 12-both 12-in.-wafer plants-are slated to come on line in 2001.

The external address and data buses have virtually disappeared from the 8-bit processors of today,” write Mark Heilpern and Norman Bartek in their article. They are both field engineers at Diab-SDS, a subsidiary of Wind River Systems Inc. (Alameda, Calif.). They believe that 16- and 32-bit embedded processors are reducing the use of external buses in favor of more specialized I/O functions. At the same time, integrating the memory on chip leaves little room for the external buses.

And with their disappearance, many traditional hardware probe techniques for collecting information on the application as it is running in the processor are now obsolete, according to contributor Daniel Mann, senior member of the technical staff at Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (Austin). Now the focus is on software probes and code instrumentation to get the processor itself to provide the information needed and on new debug interfaces to enable that process,” Mann said.

Motorola's Stence notes that due to the prevalence of new features, higher-pin-count packages, and increasing speed and complexity, few debug interfaces for embedded processors have kept up with improvements in technology. In combination with the emergence of newer debugging techniques appropriate to this new environment, the processors and SoC devices will have to incorporate ever more sophisticated debug capabilities on chip. This in turn will provide additional impetus to develop new techniques to find and eliminate bugs efficiently, effectively and non-intrusively.

In his contribution, Stence points out that the issue of non-intrusive debugging remains one of the toughest hurdles. Any technique used to raise execution visibility or provide for program control must not interfere with the operation of the processor or the application it is running,” he said.

That is because embedded applications have strict timing requirements and any intrusion that slows down the processor will nullify the test under way, Stence said. Typically, such approaches start by the instrumentation of the code-inserting probes into the program and rewriting certain constructs before submission to the compiler-to gather run-time information and control program execution.

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